This collection curated by the Librarian to entice you to think about the changing availability and long-term sustainability of our beautiful world. The Hudson River School was a mid-19th century American art movement embodied by a group of landscape painters whose aesthetic vision was influenced by romanticism; think of it as America's first true artistic fraternity.. The paintings for which the movement is named depict the Hudson River Valley and the surrounding area, including the Catskill, Adirondack, and the White Mountains; eventually works by the second generation of artists associated with the school expanded to include other locales in New England, the Maritimes, the American West, and South America. Hudson River School paintings reflect three themes of America in the 19th century: discovery, exploration, and settlement. The paintings also depict the American landscape as a pastoral setting, where human beings and nature coexist peacefully. Hudson River School landscapes are characterized by their realistic, detailed, and sometimes idealized portrayal of nature, often juxtaposing peaceful agriculture and the remaining wilderness, which was fast disappearing from the Hudson Valley just as it was coming to be appreciated for its qualities of ruggedness and sublimity.

This small painting dates from Cole's early career, when the young painter was first exploring the dramatic possibilities of landscape art. Based on studies made in New York's Catskill Mountains, the composition presents a romantic, deeply moral vision of primeval nature, its wildness contrasting with the corrupt, "civilized" landscapes of Europe. Explore the Catskills for your own outdoor venture:
Cole composed this painting from a sketch he made on a trip through the White Mountains of New Hampshire in 1827. Lake Winnepesaukee was painted just two to three years after Thomas Cole established himself as a leading American landscape artist. The painting illustrates Cole’s early desire to depict nature as wild and sublime.
In his 1835 Essay on American Scenery, Cole would describe the beauties of the American wilderness and its capacity to reveal God’s creation as a metaphoric Eden. He considered European scenery to reflect the ravages of civilization, for which primeval forests had been felled, rugged mountains had been smoothed, and impetuous rivers had been turned from their courses. In contrast, Cole believed the American wilderness to embody a state of divine grace and lamented that the signs of progress were rapidly encroaching. In his Expulsion, Cole vividly portrays both Paradise and a hostile world replete with the consequences of earthly knowledge.
Lost to scholars for more than a century, this 1858 painting of Lake Lucerne in Switzerland by Albert Bierstadt was discovered recently among thousands of artworks, antiques, coins and stamps in Exeter, R.I. The landscape is one of Bierstadt's celebrated early works and one of his largest at 6 by 10 feet.
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